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A thyroid question - specifically low ferritin related

(16 Posts)
dottyaboutstripes Tue 20-Aug-13 10:20:15

I've been feeling quite frankly shit for a LONG time. When I finally went to the GP, it turned out I was anaemic with a ferritin level of 2. The GP wanted to find out the reason for this, so I've had various tests (endoscopies which have ruled out internal bleeding, polyps, tumours, coeliac etc) and everything has come back clear. I've been taking ferrous fumarate 3x per day now for 2 months and don't really feel any better - have just had bloods done this morning to see where my levels are now.

I'm wondering if a thyroid disorder could cause this? My TSH was tested and came back at 2.4 I believe - but could it still be a thyroid thing? Should I press for more testing? The GP seemed to be fobbing me off when I mentioned it. I will be seeing a different GP when I go for my results from today's bloods but the one I've been seeing had the plan of stopping the iron tabs for 2 months now and then testing again in another 2 months to see what happens to my iron levels/ferritin. Doesn't seem like much of a plan to me, especially when I am still feeling so dire.

I'd really appreciate any thoughts/insight

prettyanddainty Tue 20-Aug-13 10:40:49

dotty I feel for you, I have had quite a few different blood tests in the last 2 weeks for hair loss. My thyroid was normal, and all my hormone blood tests were fine, but my ferritin level was 16. The Dr said that level is normal so he wasn't prepared to give me any iron tablets, so I have booked in to see a trichologist on Friday. What are your symptoms?

dottyaboutstripes Tue 20-Aug-13 10:59:52

Thankfully no hair loss, I don't have it to lose either so that's lucky.
I am exhausted
have tinnitus
numbness in hands

RockinD Tue 20-Aug-13 11:39:24

A normal TSH in a healthy person would be around 1, so a reading of 2.4 should have triggered more testing, specifically FT4, FT3 and both TPO and Tg antibodies to get a full picture of what is happening.

Assuming, OP, you are in the UK and the reference range for ferritin in your area is not dissimilar from the range in mine, then 2 is very low and will need sustained use of iron tablets, if not iron infusions, to restore it and then monitoring to ensure that it stays at least over 50 and preferably higher than that. It is important to maintain good iron stores and stopping your iron therapy would be a bad idea at this stage.

Your symptoms are non-specific, but I know what a difference raising my ferritin levels has made to me, although I also have a thyroid issue. The two often go hand in hand. You’ve mentioned numbness – ask for your B12 and folate to be tested. If your B12 is less than 500, you will need to supplement – post again at that stage for specific advice. The NHS will not help unless your B2 levels are very low in range (and sometimes not even then).

A ferritin level of 16 is also unacceptable and certainly low enough to cause hair loss. You too should be taking a serious iron supplement (ie not Spatone)and being monitored. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to get your B12 tested as well – low levels of B12 are often the other factor in hair loss.

PS - never let a doctor tell you your levels of anything are’normal’. Always ask for the actual result and the reference range so you can see where you fall in the range. I’ve actually had a consultant tell me that he does not have to use any professional judgment in interpreting blood test results. He told me that the lab give him the reference range and the result and if the result is within the range then there isn’t a problem. He’s got a lot to learn!

prettyanddainty Tue 20-Aug-13 12:57:20

rockin which iron supplements would you suggest, I will have a look at my b12 and folate as I have a print out.x

prettyanddainty Tue 20-Aug-13 13:37:32

Hi rockin my b12 is 516 ng/l
folate 8.6 ug/l

Creosote Tue 20-Aug-13 14:03:16

Ooh, some experts smile
I got my results yesterday after months of just feeling rubbish. Docs said normal, and all are in range. I still feel shite though!
My results were:
thyroid TSH 2.89 mu/L (0.30-4.20 range)
T4 14/7 pmol/L (12-22 pmil/L)
serum ferritin 33 ug/L (13-150 ug/L)
C reactive protein level 0.5 mg/L (0-5 mg/L)
B12 vitamin 502 pg/mL (197-866 pg/mL
serum folate 8.2 ng/mL (4.60-18.70 ng/mL)
so all in range, but some on the low side. What do the MN experts think? smile Ta.

dottyaboutstripes Tue 20-Aug-13 14:16:15

Yes I am in the UK so yes, a level of 2 is LOW!
Gp said B12 and folate "normal" when tested in June but I don't know specific numbers.
I did wonder about iron infusions tbh but it hasn't been mentioned.
It's 2.15pm and I'm struggling to keep my eyes open. I need to get this sorted!

jasperc163 Tue 20-Aug-13 16:23:41

Hi Dottyaboutstripes,
I have also been dealing with borderline hypothyroid problems (tsh up to 5.25) and low ferritin (though not nearly as low as yours was) at 35, with my iron serum and saturation levels below range. I eventually got given thyroxine by going to an endo privately but it made me feel crap so i gave up after a week and so still dont have that sorted. My understanding is that a thyroid problem can inhibit iron absorption BUT also that low iron can affect thryoid function (FT4 to FT3 transfer) so its a bit chicken and egg and my endo did say that she I might find i got worse on the thyroxine because my iron was low. Have you had FT3 tested as that might be worth checking to give you a clearer idea of whether the thyroid is the culprit (the problem is getting NHS gp to test it)

Alot of research says that for ideal thyroid (and other things) function your ferritin should be at least over 50 and ideally nearer 70. However most GPs will say anything over the min range of about 15 is fine :-(. I am surprised they haven't mentioned a transfusion but then maybe there will be a big improvement with these test results?

Your B12 looks just about ok as it is meant to be over 500 (ignore the range) and your ferritin is still low so that could be why you still feel bad.

PrettyandDainty - in theory you can buy the prescribed iron tablets ferrous fumarate over the counter (cheaper than prescription cost) , another alternative that i have heard recommended is Solgar Gentle Iron - which i am currently trying as the ferrous fumarate makes my arms ache (?!).

RockinD Tue 20-Aug-13 18:35:23

creosote Your results are not 'normal', they are 'within range' which is not the same thing at all.

With a TSH at 2.89 and a FT4 at 14.7, I would say that you are almost certainly hypothyroid, and you really need your FT3 and antibodies testing to find out exactly what is going on.

Your ferritin is too low - your B12 could do with a bit of a nudge up and your folate too, is not as bad as it could be, but could also be higher. All these are tied in with being hypo.

Can I suggest you visit and look at the thyroiduk forum. If you post your results there, you will get lots of advice.

prettyanddainty Tue 20-Aug-13 19:23:16

rockin what would you say about my results, sorry about be a pest.

prettyanddainty Tue 20-Aug-13 19:46:59

Thanks jasper I will take a look at those.x

Creosote Tue 20-Aug-13 22:38:55

thanks jasper and rockin. I will post in the place you mention. Out of interest, why do you say that 'in range' is not 'normal'? Do different people get different symptoms at different levels, so what is normal for most might not be for everyone iyswim?
I think it is the lack of energy that is the most debilitating, and the low mood sad.

RockinD Wed 21-Aug-13 13:24:37

Same as I said to creosote really prettyanddainty. TSH too high and other stuff on the low side.

jasper is up to speed on supplements. I had terrible problems with any iron supplement (except Spatone which was inefefctive for me) but Cytoplan saved the day. My ferritin is now 97, but it's taken 4 years to get there!

What we have to be wary of is docs who say results are normal just because they are in range when, for example with ferritin, you are going to feel sh*t and your hair will fall out if your level is 16, but if your range is 15-150 for example, you are within range.

Does that make sense?

prettyanddainty Wed 21-Aug-13 15:00:29

rockin thanks for that, yes it does make sense. My Dr has been really pissing me of recently.

dottyaboutstripes Wed 21-Aug-13 16:11:46

So is the general opinion that I should press for full thyroid testing? I just don't know any more hmm

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